Book Review: Neil Barofsky’s “Bailout”

My Friday, August 10 column at American Banker is a review of Neil Barofsky’s book, “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Barofsky for breakfast in New York in the spring as he was wrapping up the manuscript and waiting for the birth of a new baby. He’s a fun guy for me to talk to because he led the Refco fraud prosecutions as a US Attorney. He also spent some time in Colombia, although he admitted he’s forgotten all the Spanish he picked up.

Here’s a quick excerpt from the book review. I’ll be writing more in Forbes about it next week. In the meantime, go to American Banker for the rest.

Barofsky’s book focuses on his efforts as SIGTARP to prevent fraud, not just investigate it after the fact. Frustration grows when he realizes no one at Treasury is much interested in his suggestions on how to structure programs to provide simple safeguards. Barofsky is a former U.S. attorney, a prosecutor who earned his tough-guy reputation putting Refco executives in jail for fraud and bringing Colombian drug dealers to justice. But an IG has to balance the softer goals of audits – supporting improvements and measurement of results in the agency – with the hard-time purpose of investigations which typically intimidate subjects. Barofsky repeats an adage familiar to all auditors: Be a good watchdog, rather than a lapdog or a junkyard dog. Walking that line is tough when you see potential fraud exposure in the billions, like Barofsky did.

4 replies
  1. Hans J. Gscheidmeyer
    Hans J. Gscheidmeyer says:

    Dear Francine McKenna,

    I rally love your site, which is giving so much insight from behind the scene.
    That helps us all in our try to make a difference in these turmoil days.
    I ordered Neil Borofsky’s book straight away- sustainably as Kindle edition.
    So also thanks to the author and the publishers to open up for that option too.

    Best regards and, please, carry on

  2. Charlie Quinn
    Charlie Quinn says:

    As always you enlighten without alienating or preaching.
    There is no doubt, not since ERIC HOLDER granted “AMNESTY ” to Goldman Sachs–that there is an incestuous relationship
    between politicians and wall street bankers. The idiocy of today’s politics is the fact that too many believe that the Obama administration
    is “looking out for our interests”

  3. Conscience of a Conservative
    Conscience of a Conservative says:

    When the big 8 are now the big 4, the world oligopoly comes to mind. The system may now be one where the firms do a defacto carving up of the market and don’t do anything to rock the boat(e.g. go after each other’s clients or push clients away). Long term relationships may now be the result of non-mandatory auditor rotation and too few firms competing for the business. Agree whole heartedly that protecting the fee stream is more important than doing the job to it’s logical conclusion. These days , Auditors work more for management than the eventual users of the information, who have not shown sufficient interest in the process or exercised legal rights when they have suffered by relying on poorly audited data.

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